Kennedy School Center for Public Leadership Helps Compile List of America’s Best Leaders

In collaboration with the U.S. News Media Group, last Friday Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership compiled and released a list of America’s Best Leaders of 2009, which will appear in the November issue of U.S. News & World Report.

The Center for Public Leadership worked with a group of Kennedy School students to draw up a list of potential candidates for the report, which features 22 individuals or groups of people with exemplary leadership abilities.

“We want to provide refreshing stories,” said Catherine M. Otis-Cote, assistant director of CPL. “We want to provide an educational opportunity for people to learn more about inspiring examples of leadership in the US.”

When nominating candidates, the CPL searches for individuals who set direction, work to achieve tangible results, and cultivate a culture of growth and frank communication within a given organization, according to Otis-Cote. The individuals’ accomplishments must impact America and have occurred in the past year and a half, she added.

The list touches upon professions that run the gamut from politics to choreography. This year’s list includes Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke ’75, former Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy ’54-’56, Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin, activist Eboo Patel, and MIT College President Susan Hockfield.

The Center for Public Leadership—which was founded in 2000 to provide graduate students with an education in leadership—has been working with the Media Group since 2006 to publish the annual list.

The CPL began gathering notes on potential candidates for this year’s ranking in January. At that time, a group of 15 Kennedy School students drew up a short-list of about 300 individuals, which was then pared down 100 candidates.

Those names were then passed along to a selection committee of 30 professionals from varying fields, Otis-Cote said. The final selection was sent to U.S. News, which profiled each honoree.

—Tara W. Merrigan

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